All Posts Tagged ‘Cheese

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sunday brunch: tina’s favorite breakfast sandwich.

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GUYS. Guys. Big news over here at Plumber’s Daughter. It took 35 long years, but I think I’ve finally landed on a favorite food. Say what?! Yes, it’s true. This may be an easy choice for you; for me, it’s a constant struggle. Do I choose a cuisine? A dish? A piece of meat or a vegetable? OH, THE STRUGGLE.

But. I had a good think about it, put on my big girl pants, and made a decision. And my decision is that I am hopelessly in love with the classic that is a perfect breakfast sandwich. It brings me a level of joy rarely achieved by other things, and I savor every single bite anytime this business lands on my plate.

So now I’m committed. I’ve chosen. I’m ready to get serious. Me and my breakfast sandwich can live happily ever after in favorite food harmony. Can I get a YUM and a HECK YES and a WOOOOO.

If you, too, would like to experience the level of joy I feel digging into this little ditty, I suggest you follow this lovely little recipe. It’s a traditional take on a breakfast sandwich — the rich, buttery flavor of over easy eggs, the salty, chewiness of thick cut bacon, the crunch of a perfectly toasted English muffin. Add in a little sharp cheddar for a kick and some dressed greens for a little tang and you’re in business. Serve with a small salad, some sliced fruit or your fave breakfast potatoes and you’ve got a banner meal to start your day.

It’s my favorite, and I can’t wait to dig in. Shall we?

You ready? OK, let’s do this.

Tina’s Breakfast Sandwich
Serves: 2 (makes 2 sandwiches)

You will need:

2 English muffins, split in half
4 strips thick-cut bacon
2 eggs
4 thin slices sharp cheddar or 1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter plus more for spreading
½ cup greens, such as arugula, mache, or spinach
lemon juice & olive oil or your favorite vinaigrette
garlic salt
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Kitchen equipment: small nonstick sauté pan, medium sauté pan, metal spatula, tongs

Fry the bacon. Starting with a cold medium sauté pan, add bacon strips in a single layer. Turn the heat on medium-low. As the pan heats, the bacon will begin to sizzle and the fat will render. Once the bacon begins to curl and shrink, you can flip the pieces using your tongs and continue to cook. Everyone has their favorite way to serve bacon, so it’s really up to you how much longer you cook it. Obviously the longer you cook it, the crispier it will be, and don’t forget that it will continue to cook a bit longer after you pull it from the pan. Once the bacon is cooked to your liking, remove from the pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Set aside.

Toast the English muffins. One of my favorite elements of a good breakfast sandwich is the crunch of the bread, whatever bread you may be using. You want the bread to be appropriately crispy as a nice texture contrast to the egg and bacon, but you don’t want it to be so crispy that it becomes difficult to eat. To get the perfect crunch, you can either toast the English muffins in your toaster on a light setting, or my preferred method, which is to spread a bit of butter on the muffins, season with salt and pepper, then place under the broiler in your oven for 5-7 minutes. Remove from the oven or toaster and set aside. You’ll toast these again when you melt the cheese, so don’t worry if they’re not quite crunchy enough yet.

Cook the eggs. This step is by far the trickiest. Cooking a perfect egg is still something I’m working on myself, but if you master the right technique, you’ll at least produce something delicious. You may have to practice a bit before it’s actually delicious AND pretty.

To get started, heat your small nonstick sauté pan over low heat and add one tablespoon butter. Crack your eggs into a small bowl or ramekin. Once the butter is fully melted and has stopped foaming, add the eggs to the pan and immediately lift the handle of the pan about an inch off the stove so the eggs pool in the far end of the pan. Hold for about 30 seconds, then slowly lower the pan. This simple step will ensure that the whites of the egg don’t spread all over the pan and will allow for easier flipping later.

Season the eggs with salt and pepper, and cook until the whites turn opaque, shaking every once in awhile to ensure they don’t stick. And now comes the flipping. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and maybe give yourself a little pep talk. You can do this, I promise. When you’re ready, raise the pan about a foot off the stove, and in a confident motion, push the pan away from you and then pull back towards you as the eggs flip. If you don’t get it the first time, try again. If all else fails, take your metal spatula and give the eggs a little push.

After successfully flipping the egg, count slowly to 10 then flip again for an over easy egg, more like 30-45 for an over medium. I don’t mess with eggs that are more than over easy, but if you prefer a firmer egg, just continue to cook until it’s to your liking.

Once you’ve flipped the egg back to its original size, it’s basically done, so you can slide it out of the pan onto a plate. Set aside and turn your attention back to the muffins.

Melt the cheese. Turn on the broiler in your oven if it’s not on already. Take your pre-toasted English muffins and add one slice or a good pinch of shredded cheddar to each. Place under the broiler, and watching closely, melt the cheese until it is bubbling and slightly browned. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a pinch of garlic salt.

Dress the greens. Wash and pat dry your greens, then add them to a small bowl. If you’re using lemon and olive oil, add about a teaspoon of each, season with salt and pepper, and toss gently until coated evenly.

Bring it all together. OK, game time. Take your melty, cheese muffins and place them on your serving plate. Place an egg on two of them. Top each egg with two slices of bacon and a small handful of greens. Top the sandwich with the spare muffins.

Consume immediately. Get messy with it. Let the egg run all down your arm and don’t even worry about it. The mess it worth the experience of this salty, cheesy, rich and tangy wonder.

There are a million ways to make a breakfast sandwich, and I’m sure about 956,874 of those ways are fantastic. But this one is mine. It’s simple, it’s traditional, and it’s crazy delicious. You do you, I’m stickin’ with mine. Enjoy!

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sunday dinner: mastering the meat & cheese board.

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Happy Memorial Day Weekend, guys! I hope you’re enjoying your long weekend and doing some Hip Hip Hoorays because Summer is on its way and all is right with the world. I am certainly doing that, glass (bottle) of rosé in hand, obvs. Truth be told, there are some days when I just don’t feel like cooking. Like today. Sometimes it’s too hot and sometimes I’m too busy and other times I just can’t be bothered. Livin’ that lady of leisure life. Bring me all the bon bons.

But in times when I don’t feel like crafting a meal or when I might need to throw something together real quick like if I have friends coming over to help me enjoy that glass (bottle) of rosé, that’s the perfect time for the cheese and charcuterie (cured meats). It’s easy and delicious, and a little know-how and minimal effort can get you an amazing spread, one that will surely impress your guests (or simply satisfy you, as you laze about your day, feeling luxurious).

To prep my spread for the day, I took a little field trip to the Grand Central Market, one of my favorite places in NYC, which is located inside the dreamy Grand Central Terminal. This market is amazingly photogenic (as you can see below) and honestly feels like you’re walking onto a movie set of what a gourmet market should look like. Lucky for me, it happened to not be too busy on this Sunday afternoon, so I was able to peruse the market at a leisurely pace. I picked up a selection of meats and cheeses — the foundation of any good cheese & charcuterie board, and I grabbed a few other treasures that not only pair well with the stars of the show but enhance their delectable flavors.

Now, let’s get down to business and get to shoppin’.

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The Cheese

For cheeses, I like a sampling of flavors and textures, so I usually go for one creamy cheese, one firm or hard cheese, and one blue cheese. For creamy cheeses, I would go with a triple cream brie, a brunet, or a fromager d’affinois. For a firm or hard cheese, a gouda, a manchego, or a cheddar are great choices. And for blue cheese, I tend towards a gorgonzola dolce, a cambozola, or the Rogue Creamery Caveman Blue (swoon).

If you’re in the mood for a little adventure (or even if you’re not), I highly recommend having a chat with your local cheese guy (or lady). They can be a great resource for selecting cheeses that will suit your needs, and they will usually let you sample the goods before you buy, so you know what you’re getting into. Taking this extra step has led me to some of my very favorite cheeses ever, so it’s worth a little extra time in the grocery store.

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The Meat

For your charcuterie, you really can’t go wrong with any selection. For reals. However, that’s probably not very helpful, is it? Apologies, cured meats are my kryptonite. My must-haves are typically some form of prosciutto and a spicy salami or a sopressata. If you’re feeling fancy and a little dangerous, throw in a nice paté. If you can get these freshly sliced, that’s the best. If not, no worries, they’ll still be delicious. Mmmm, salty meaty goodness.

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The Bread & Crackers

OK, now you’ve got your meats. You’ve got your cheeses. You need something to put them on. I don’t think there’s anything better than a good crusty French baguette in this scenario, but I would also encourage you to grab some sort of crisps or crackers, like these or these. They are a fantastic pair to your firmer cheeses and a delicious addition to any board.

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The Add-Ons

And finally, every good meat and cheese board comes with a few extra treats, either to pair with your meat and cheese, or to eat along side them. My go-tos fall into two categories — snacks & spreads. For snacks, I must MUST have olives and cornichons (thank you thank you thank you, tiny French pickle gods for bringing this creation to my table). A good nut — like marcona almonds or spiced pecans — are a great addition, and you might also want some fresh berries.

When it comes to spreads, anything in the fig, cherry, apricot or quince family will do the trick. You want something tangy and slightly sweet; it will balance the saltiness of the cheese and the meat.

Putting It All Together

Once you’ve procured all of your ingredients, you have to put it all together. The idea is to make it easy to snack on, so you can enjoy little bits over the course of a few hours. If you have a cheese board, use it to lay out your cheeses and your meats. Put your snacks in small bowls along side, and either add a dollop of your spread to your cheese board or just spoon it from the jar. Grab another plate and lay out the crackers and the bread. Add a few cheese knives (or regular butter knives if you are cheese knife-less) and get to snackin’. No forks or plates necessary, remember, this is the lowest maintenance of meals. All of the above goes perfectly with a big ol’ glass of wine and a nice view. The laziest of meals for soon to be lazy days.